Formerly a seller in the field and now the VP of Sales with Tocara Jewelry, Megan Ranco knows a few things about building a successful business. Today on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, she’s sharing the ways in which she’s watched direct sales evolve—and, of course, how sellers can adapt to match that growth. Her key is keeping the work focused on people, and with her advice about personalization, positivity, and adding value beyond your products, you too can build a community of long-time clients and long-term support!
- 1:04 Megan Ranco introduction
- 5:54 Evolution of direct sales
- 12:17 Success with value-added content
- 16:43 Personal brands and authenticity
- 20:10 Positivity as a sales tool
- 22:58 Megan’s favorite office supply
Megan, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about your background and who you serve?
Well, I’ve been in this industry for just over thirteen years. I was introduced to it when I had my eldest son, and I went in the field—which is how many of us discover direct sales. And, I really fell in love with the industry. So, when I had the opportunity to start working with Tocara corporately, thirteen years ago, I was really excited to be able to take on a different role in the industry and help others build and grow businesses that would impact their lives in a positive way, much the same way that it had positively impacted my own.
So, the story really starts with Randall Markus; he’s the founder of Tocara. And really, his passion for the industry is infectious. You can’t help but leave a conversation with him so much more passionate than you were going into it. So, he had been in the jewelry industry for many, many years and had a lot of experience on that side. And, like so many of us, he had discovered the business model of direct sales, and he developed a passion for that and saw an opportunity to pay it forward.
So, he took his decades of experience with jewelry, and manufacturing, and all of the relationships he had built in that industry, and he took the quality and the longevity of his relationships, and he used that solid foundation to build an incredible company called Tocara. He always says he was given a leg up as a young man when he started in the jewelry industry at about 18 years old; a supplier had helped him get going, and then he moved on to great success in his life based on that. So, Randall felt like this was his opportunity to give countless others that same opportunity to propel themselves to success with their own businesses.
And, I came in and joined the team as it was taking off about two years in, and I really accompanied Tocara through that growth period. And, I also recognized and fell in love with the fact that it’s all about the people at Tocara. Like, the product is something you can offer many different ways to people, but the opportunity and the people are what make it really special.
I love that. And, I think since you’ve not only been with your company, but been in the industry for a little while now, you’ve seen the ups, the downs, the twists, the turns, whereas many direct sellers have only experienced what the last couple of years have looked like in the industry. Could you share how the industry has evolved over time, and where you think we might be headed next?
So, I think the industry has really evolved in that the last couple of years have opened our eyes and forced many of us to adopt things that we were reticent to prior to the pandemic, like integrating and using technology a lot more than we had previously. You know, I almost feel like before, we had two schools. “This or that,” as we say. And, I think where we’re at today is, “Why does it have to be or? Why can’t it be this and that?” So, I think we’ve opened our minds; we’ve adopted and incorporated new technologies and new platforms into how we’re doing business. And, I think we saw and grew a lot from that, and developed new skill sets as entrepreneurs during that time.
So, I think where we’re at today is finding that balance of saying, “There’s a lot of elements that we liked and that we’re proud to have developed and incorporated in our businesses during that time, and we don’t want to let those go.” But at the same time, there are also elements that we miss and we longed for during that time that we want to reintroduce back into our businesses. It’s all about realizing “this and that” work well together. So, whether you want to do it this way, or that way, or this and that way, I think it’s open to everyone to just sort of decide where you’re most comfortable, and develop your skill set and your strengths and move forward with that.
I love that, on the corporate side, you all are recognizing that direct sales isn’t just, “Hey, this is the one path that you take.” It’s: “There’s options, and you can do it both ways.” Or, “You could do it this way or that way.” This “pick your own adventure” is definitely a theme that we’re seeing across the industry right now.
I have to agree. And, I’m really excited that this is what we’ve adopted in our model, and that Tocara is moving forward by embracing and encouraging all of our business partners to really develop their own strategies and put their own colors to it. So, for anyone who’s trying to find their own way, I recommend just being open to trying new things and adding something to the way that you’re doing things. You know the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, if you’re doing something, and it’s working for you and your business, then you shouldn’t stop doing it—because it’s working for you and your business. But, at the same time, stay open to these other things, and these ways that you’re seeing and hearing of people doing things, and maybe just add it in and give it a try.
That’s great advice for those that have been in the industry for a little while and feel like they’re at a bit of a standstill. And, I’m hearing that a lot from the students that I’m working with in my programs, as well as other direct sales leaders that I’ve talked to that are like, “Hey, I’ve been doing this for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and I know I need to reinvent myself. I know there are things that I need to do differently.” But, it can be a little scary when you’re set in your ways and you have a rhythm to your business. So, just trying it on, testing the waters, and seeing if it’s a fit is such great advice.
And, can I just say? One at a time. It can feel overwhelming, because you may be looking at it and thinking, “I have to revamp everything and redo everything.” Guess what? No, you don’t. You can just do one at a time. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just one step at a time.
So, for those that you’re working with directly in the field, the consultants that you’re seeing just having a lot of success, are there any specific strategies or ideas that are really working for them that others might want to try on?
I’d say, you know, I see a lot of them focusing on delivering added value to their customers. So, it’s not just about the sale of the product, right? It’s not “what is the product” and “what is the product going to do for you,” but instead it’s any added value. You want to deliver the interest. You are your brand, and you want them to return and visit you, and you want your customers to be excited about seeing you or hearing you. Whether it’s on social media, shares that you’re doing, or whether they’re calling you, they’re always excited to pick up the phone and hear what you have to say, or watch your Live or watch your Reel or read your post, because it’s engaging.
So, I’d say that it’s about not just products or sales that we’re sharing, but it’s about offering that added value to your customers that’s going to make you stand out. That’s your point of differentiation to really make your brand sing and stand out, and what’s going to keep your customers coming back to you. Because, after all, they’re your customers because of you, because of what you’re bringing to the table. And, you want to continue to bring more of yourself to the business.
I love hearing that, especially from you on the corporate side. You’re really looking at high-level strategies, and you’re also very well aware of your company’s branding and how you’re showing up out in the market. But, you’re also recognizing that direct sellers can put their own spin on what they’re sharing and build their personal brand into it. That can really enhance the overall brand, even when every individual is bringing their own flair. So, I love hearing that, because I feel like, for a long time, there was a little resistance around that.
You know, I agree. But, I think it’s in the best interest of corporate to work with their fields and recognize that this is something that they’re doing. This is something that they’re going to do for their businesses. So, we can work with them, and we can guide them on how to share their brand and the added value so that they’re not going from zero and creating it on their own. We can help outline how each consultant can put their own flavor and their own spin on things to share the product their way, with their markets and their customers, and help them to do it in a way where we’re just as proud to have them share as we are of our own branding that we’re creating and putting out there.
Well, and really what that does for you, too, is that you have incredible user-generated content. And, I don’t think we talk enough about the fact that people pay influencers to go out there and create content that corporations can share. And, with the direct sales model, you essentially have lots of people out there creating incredible content that’s going to elevate and support the brand as a whole. So, it’s the beauty of both worlds, right? Like, you’re getting really great content generated, they’re putting their own personal brand and their stamp of personality into what they’re sharing, and you’re not out there paying somebody tens of thousands of dollars to go create content for you in the influencer world.
No, we have the authenticity of our very own consultants—who are influencers by any other name—just out there sharing in their markets. It’s built into our business models.
It’s so true. And, people really love to buy from people. I would much rather buy from my neighbor next door, or my best friend that’s selling something in the direct sales space, than some celebrity influencer that I have no personal connection to. So, I feel like that’s where the industry is headed as a whole, is everyone showing up as their own true, authentic selves and really infusing their personality and their perspective into the brand that they’re representing. And, I love the forward-thinking companies that are out there that really see that vision and support it through their policies and the tools and the training and everything that they’re sharing with their fields.
I love it. And, the reality is that this is a relationship-building business. And, I think there’s no better marketing or advertisement for any company or product than word of mouth, because you just hit the nail on the head, Becky, when you said that you’d rather buy from someone that you know, because there’s that trust factor. You know, you can see a commercial for a particular food, and you might be tempted to try it, because it looks good, but as soon as someone you know says, “Oh my God, it was amazing! You have to try it.” Five seconds later, you’re out there getting it, and you’re trying it, right? Because now, you don’t think it looks good, you know and have confidence that that’s going to be yummy.
That’s what this industry is about. There’s no better testimonial than someone who absolutely, earnestly, and authentically loves and enjoys a product or a service, and that’s what they’re sharing. So, I think we’re going forward, and we’re bringing with us the quality and the experiences that we’ll get back to with in-person, and recognizing the importance and the power behind the people in the industry and the relationships and the importance that relationships in the industry play. People to people has always been the foundation of the industry, and I think it’s always going to be the foundation of the industry. The people are the ones that make the industry, and we’re the ones that make it powerful, and we’re the ones that reach others, and we’re the ones that make it successful.
Oh, mic drop! I completely agree that there’s a lot of what we’ve seen historically that we know works, and then I also think that a lot of us were in survival mode for a long time. Now it’s bringing back, like, “Okay, this is really what worked before. I need to get back to a little bit more of that relationship-building, a little bit more of those individual conversations.” I mean, my podcast listeners know, I talk about 3 + 3 + 3s all day long, and connecting with people, and real, human interactions. And, it’s awesome that we have technology, and we have social media, and we have all these different ways that we can build that “know, like, trust” factor; but ultimately it comes down to having conversations, building relationships with people, and being authentic and genuine, because the sales are gonna follow. That’s the reality.
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